Sunday, 26 December 2010

Memorable beer prices

Inflation, eh? It’s been a complaint of beer drinkers ever since I can remember that beer seems to rise in price faster than other goods. I don't know whether it’s true, though I rather suspect it is, and I can’t be bothered looking up the figures.

I suppose that a pint is a regular purchase, like a newspaper or a travelcard, and you notice when it goes up. You get used to the price. You think of it as the natural price and are a little upset when the price rises. Once you have got used to the higher price and have finally stopped grumbling about, it goes up again.

By my reckoning, the price of a pint has tripled since I started drinking. I have certain price points etched in my memory.

1988: In the grotty social club where we all had our 18th birthday parties, all pints were 88p or 92p or something like that. I remember Guinness was the only one that cost more than a pound at £1.02.

1992: £1.22 in the mock-Tudor pub where we used to go after student demonstrations.

1997: I pay £1.99 for a pint for the first time. I remember being really shocked about this. Still, it was at a railway station in central London and the usual price was still significantly lower.

2004: When I moved to my current abode, my new local had caught up with 1997’s London prices: £2.05 was the cost of a pint.

2008: All cask ales £2.50 in one particular pub. I remember this because one night they put on Paradox (9%) at the same price as everything else.

2010: Most of the places I drink now charge £3.00 or a few pence less.

But if you offered me a pint of the nasty muck that I had to drink in the grotty social club for 92p, I’d still choose to drink the beer I drink now.


  1. Personally I think beer has faired reasonably well in the inflation stakes. I assume you are talking about pub prices rather than off sales prices, where if anything in real terms the cost has gone down!

    Unless you live in the trendy city centre areas of any large city (where by default you deserve to be paying more for everything!), then the prices have stayed relatively steady.

    A bottle of Newcastle Brown in 1990 cost exactly £1 (in a pub in the midlands) and today is unlikely to cost you any more than £3 anywhere in the country other than the most expensive city pubs.

    And today a pint of real ale will retail for anything from £1.50 to £3 in any reasonable drinking establishment.

    Bread and milk might have come down in price at the great expense of the loss of massive numbers of small independent dairies and the like, while at the same time the the price of beer has remained relatively stable and the choice available is on the rise thanks to the establishment of craft beer as a viable market force!

    I'm all for paying a few bucks more if it helps save good beer and good pubs!

  2. It's a simple fact that the price of beer (in pubs) has risen way above the cost of living. Nothing to do with inflation, it's simply extra taxation on booze and extra costs to the pub trade. The average price of a pint of real ale is now £2.80 and duty rates on beer have increased 20% during the last two years alone.

    I'm afraid the days of enjoying a cheap night out in most pubs are long gone.

  3. When I went to college in 1972, a pint of bitter was 13p. With inflation since then, it should be £1.30, but is in fact £2.50 to £3.00. So beer has gone up by twice the rate of inflation since 1972 ~ I see nothing here to celebrate, as people are less likely to go to the pub, or if they do, spend less ~ as confirmed by the decline in pub beer sales. High prices won't save pubs: they're more likely to close them. As Tyson says, you're paying mostly for excessive taxation.